A suburban Philadelphia county is drawing applause, and some criticism, for issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. LGBT advocates say that’s created an odd situation for the gay and lesbian community in Montgomery County: gay men and lesbians can get married but they could also be fired or denied housing for being gay.
“This is an interesting step forward and it makes a statement and it gets people to talk,” said Ted Martin, executive director of Equality Pennsylvania, of the situation. “But there’s a much fuller picture in Pennsylvania, certainly Montgomery County, about nondiscrimination.”
Pennsylvania does not have non-discrimination legislation to protect members of the LGBT community. Martin said while some places have passed their own local laws, Montgomery County has not.
Montgomery County Commissioner Leslie Richards said she’s working to change that.
“We formed a committee a few months ago to look into whether the county can enact a nondiscrimination ordinance and that committee,” she said, is currently doing research and analysis.
Commissioner Bruce Castor said he opposes a county nondiscrimination ordinance because he believes that sort of legislation should be passed in Harrisburg — not by the county.
“It would be akin to saying that in Montgomery County you can’t use your cellphone, but as soon as you cross the county line into Delaware County, you can,” Castor said. “I think those sorts of laws have to be applied throughout the entire commonwealth and not just by county.”
It’s not cleare whether Pennsylvania, which bans same-sex marriage, will step in to stop the county from issuing licenses.